Competing to Design Classrooms for the Future

August 25, 2009

By Mark Bishop, Deputy Director

Here in the US, school buildings play a critical role in the lives of children, teachers and communities. The physical learning environment impacts student achievement, teaching quality and occupant health. Schools are important parts of their neighborhoods and often serve as an important public commons where shared public use can take place. And school buildings represent a significant investment of any community resources – we should be careful stewards of these resources by ensuring that schools are designed, built, renovated and maintained in the most cost-effective manner.

But the importance of a healthful classroom is not limited to the US. According to the World Bank, millions of existing classrooms worldwide are in serious need of repair and refurbishment. And the educational needs of children worldwide will require the construction of 10 million new classrooms by 2015!

So while we work to support the construction and maintenance of schools in the US, we're excited to see the Open Architecture Network create a contest to spur the classroom of the future with no limits on geographical boundaries.

The entries have been culled to a final eight and the winner receives up to $50,000 towards building the design. And these designs are exciting. They take into account the local community, sustainability, educational priorities and more – all elements that any school design would benefit from.

My favorite is the Adaptable Hillside Classroom, a design for a classroom in the Ugandan hillsides. This design is for a multi-use space so community members can use the building as a community resource, it takes into account local topography, climate, and uses plenty of daylighting and locally derived materials.

School

The need to invest in quality educational facilities is universal and the Open Architecture Network has created a forum to remind us all of this.